Witherington on “The James Ossuary”
by James Tabor
The Golan Heights (and Depths)– the Sad Story of Oded Golan
August 15, 2012 By Ben Witherington
It is story that is tragic in various ways. How would you like to be in jail and then on trial for forgery, theft, fraud, and then exonerated, and then not be given back the property that was taken from you by the antiquities police?
Matthew Kalman, who has kept me up to speed on the developments throughout the trial, and is the only reporter to sit through the whole thing now has a couple of articles in the Jerusalem Post, to which he kindly gave me the link (see below). It is a cautionary tale well worth reading, and the long and short of it is just exactly what was said in the last issue of BAR: 1) Golan was not guilty: 2) the James ossuary has a genuine inscription and belongs to Golan; 3) while the desire to eliminate forgery and antiquities theft is laudable, the IAA went about all the wrong way, and never made their case against Golan. Indeed, they botched the analysis of the ossuary and the Jehoash tablet; 4) the James ossuary was in the possession of Golan in the 1970s, who got it from an antiquities dealer BEFORE there ever was a Talpiot tomb opening. The evidence is clear on this matter.
I stand by my original conclusions in the Brother of Jesus book—this is the ossuary of James, the brother of Jesus, and it provides indirect testimony to both the existence of Jesus and the fact that he and his name were vindicated, indeed revered after his crucifixion. Check out http://www.amazon.com/Jerusalem-Report-July-2012-ebook/dp/B008L41146
I find myself largely in agreement with Ben Witherington here, which is a rare convergence between us since we hold such opposite views on most areas of Christian Origins. In terms of his final point, regarding the chronology of the discovery of the Talpiot tomb and Oded Golan’s purchase of the ossuary, I recommend the chapter in our new book, The Jesus Discovery, titled “The Mystery of the James Ossuary,” that offers a comprehensive overview of all the relevant issues.